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Ismet Ruchimat: Renewing Sundanese Music

Culture | Wednesday, 10 March 2010 |sundanesecorner.org

Ismet Ruchimat (Photograph: Rameli Agam)

Ismet Ruchimat (Photograph: Rameli Agam)

Born in Bandung on 19 November 1968, Ismet Ruchimat is the leading musician of Sambasunda, a Bandung-based musical group that blends traditional Sundanese music with contemporary music from all over the world. He also teaches music at Indonesian College of Arts (STSI) at Bandung.

“Tradition is actually a contemporary matter. The process of conserving a tradition is undertaken to adapt to a new era. This is very important as an act of investing culture in order to face the future. In this context Sundanese culture should not lose its spirit,” he said to me in the courtyard of STSI campus.

Ismet and friends founded Sambasunda in 1993 to combine traditional Sundanese karawitan with contemporary music. From their creativity stemmed a new musical genre, which is different from its traditional sources. Sambasunda creates an ethnic music that has urban characteristics.

The music of Sambasunda may be called as contemporary Sundanese music. It is played with several Sundanese instruments, both percussions and strings, along with modern musical instruments. It performs pop, jazz, and rock. Some of its creations modify traditional Sundanese folk songs.

“Preserving traditional values should make the tradition relevant to urban life. Creativity is needed in order to realize the new era that in turn will create a new creation that stemmed from traditional values,” said he.

Since it foundation, Sambasunda has often been performing music in all over the five continents. Nearly very year it performs music both in Indonesia and abroad.  It has also released musical albums, i.e.  Rythmical in Sundanese People, Gebyar Bali Jaipong: Bajidor Kahot, Sunda-Bali: Millenium Ritual, Takbir dan Shalawat, Salsa and Salse, and Sambasunda.

“For me, traditional music is my point of departure. Beside, who shall play our music if not ourselves? No matter where to play the music, preserving Sundanese music is always our ideal,” said Ismet, a doctoral candidate in Performance Arts at Gadjah Mada University (UGM), Yogyakarta.

Like Ismet, all musicians and singers who gather in Sambasuda are young. The music they performed is the sound of new Sundanese generation that enchant the world.

Sambasunda is not merely a musical group, but also an education medium for promoting Sundanese art and culture,” said Ismet.***

Rameli Agam, a Bandung-based journalist

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3 Responses to “Ismet Ruchimat: Renewing Sundanese Music”

  1. Loki says:

    Hello, I am a big fan of Sundanese music, and I plan to take a trip to Bandung in a few months. Could you tell me where is the best place/places in bandung to buy LP records/Cd’s of traditional sundanese music? Any tips are much appreciated.



  2. Hawe Setiawan says:

    Dear Loki,

    There are some places in the city where you can find music CD. To mention some of them, here they are:

    Disc Tarra
    Dago Office Square, Floor 2
    Jl. Ir. H. Djuanda 48
    Phone: 022-4201642

    Bandung Super Mall, Ground Floor
    Jl. Gatot Subroto 286
    Phone: 022-9101052

    Istana Plaza, Floor 2
    Jl. Pasirkaliki

    Duta Suara
    Parijz van Java, Ground Floor
    Jl. Sukajadi 137-139

    However, since Sundanese music CDs are sometimes hard to find in such big stores, you can also visit some art galleries in the city. For instance, you can visit:

    Taman Budaya Jawa Barat (also known as Dago Tea House)
    Jl. Bukit Dago Selatan No. 53 A
    Phone: 022-2504912, 022-2514368

    Have a nice trip.

  3. Joyce says:

    And to think I was going to talk to someone in person about this.

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